I Think You’re Missing The Big Bottom Line In Those “Skinny” Subway Ads

Have you seen Subway’s latest ad ~ the one with the woman who reminds us to “Eat Fresh!” and stay healthy & slim so we can fit into our sexy Halloween costumes?

Jezebel did. And out came the requisite rant. (Have I mentioned I’m getting tired of that?) Of course others had their rants too.

But come on now, let’s face reality. Aren’t all the Halloween costumes for women sexy now? The fact that Subway knows they are shouldn’t really be a surprise. Because just who hasn’t noticed this? There’s a name for it: Slutoween. And, right or wrong, there’s a history behind it. (And, in fact, Hallowe’en began as a holiday for rowdy, bawdy adults, not children.) Whether or not you want to don such sexy apparel is up to you; but stop denying that they are popular. Guess what, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult Halloween costumes. The free-market has dictated that sexy does sell when it comes to Halloween costumes.

With so much money being spent on the costumes, is it any wonder Subway would latch onto our vain desire to look better in those costumes? If our cultural definition of “better looking” is thin (or at least “thinner”), it makes dollars and cents to pull that marketing string. And if you want to cry out in body image outrage (apparently not seeing the shirtless man in the Viking costume at the table, as well as the humor of the commercial itself), go ahead. I’ll cynically counter with the point that Subway also wants us to be alive next year ~ if only to be customers. Having a business that’s all about eating healthier really is a great business model; it really does cost more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, you know.

jared_subway_pants Anyway, I think the negative response to this Subway commercial is itself sexist.

Where were the complaints about men having to slim down so they didn’t have to wear those huge pants?

The collective “we” saw that as a healthy move. There was no out-cry then.

But a woman wants to be sexy? A woman who dares to admit she wants to be sexy?

Oh hell no! We simply can’t have any of that!

Meanwhile, Natalie Mitchell, the actress in the ad who models all the sexy costumes (complete with “Foxy Fullback”), is keeping mum until this latest, mainly feminist, frenzy passes. Keep an eye on her Tumblr page for comment.

natalie mitchell foxy fullback subway ad

Padding Your Bra With Emotions

Can’t find enough reasons to hate your bra? You will soon: Microsoft is working on a smart bra to measure your mood:

mood sensing brasThe prototype contains removable sensors that monitor heart and skin activity to provide an indication of mood levels.

The aim was to find out if wearable technology could help prevent stress-related over-eating.

Mood data was provided to the wearer via a smartphone app in order to highlight when “emotional eating” was likely to occur.

A team from Microsoft’s visualisation and interaction research group embedded an electrocardiogram and electro-dermal activities sensors as well as a gyroscope and accelerometer in the bra.

In their paper, the researchers say using a bra “was ideal because it allowed us to collect EKG [electrocardiogram] near the heart”.

As if women don’t hear enough messages about our moods, behaviors, and weight; we now must hear directly from our clothing. And not just when they tighten around us.

Once you spend the time necessary for the equipment to learn all about you and your emotional eating habits, find correlations between your heart and skin activity, and you take the time to participate in the food & mood logging, the premise is rather simple. The sensors, custom boards called GRASP for Genitic Remote Access Sensing Platform (That name was by design?!), will then transmit the mood data to a mobile phone application using Bluetooth — then the messages from the “EmoTree” will begin to “suggest interventions” — i.e. nag the crap out of you.

One such intervention is to remind you to relax by taking some deep breaths — instructing you to tap on the little bird on the screen with every slow breath you take. Sounds a lot like it’s going to turn into Angry Birds, right? I can only imagine how stressed me would like to tap the hell out of some bird willing to tweet, however politely and privately, that Fatty-McFat-Face-me had better concentrate on her breathing & stay away from the fridge.

emotional eating bra app

There are also plans for the bra & app combo to offer other “distracting interventions”, whatever those are. What could be more distracting than your cell phone telling you to calm the hell down and not to eat? …Maybe it will play a humorous video clip or something nice. Or maybe it will be something more shaming. Like maybe it will it communicate with your friends and suggest they provide a personal intervention: “Jackie, your fat friend Deanna is stressed and heading for the ice cream again! Wouldn’t it be nice if you called her and listened to her bitch about her mother for awhile?”

What obviously springs to mind with this whole thing is the butt-load, err, bra-load of potential uses and abuses. What about hacks? Will there be bras to assess and monitor our other moods? Like one to tell us about our sexual arousal — with an app to alert our partners, of course. Perhaps it will even be like those hook-up apps, telling any stranger who signs up (or hacks into the program) that a randy dame is nearby. “Your honor, she was asking for it — she was wearing that bra app!” Whatever info is collected, maybe the NSA will need that data dump too.

The researchers don’t want us to think this whole idea is sexist. They noted that “efforts to create a similar piece of underwear for men worked less well, largely because the sensors were located too far away from the heart.” Well, jeeze, scientists, don’t fat men have those man-boobs? They surely could benefit from a bro, no? And don’t men wear something else everyday — something above the waist, like, I don’t know, a shirt?

Naw, that wouldn’t make any sense; we must focus on how women look because that’s what they are here for. And notice, there’s no mention or suggestion regarding anorexia  or other health disorders. Fat — women’s fat — is the health issue to focus on.

The good news here is that this mood-bra isn’t ready for market just yet; users in the study found the device “tedious” as the GRASP boards had to be recharged every 3-4 hours.

Then again, that’s about how long some of us can bear to wear our bras.

As for me, if I’m going to invest in any new tech bras, it might be the bra that can detect cancer. Let’s see if that one actually makes it to market.

Busty Girls Held Hostage By Retailers & Economy

I don’t want to keep picking on Lane Bryant, but a few things need to be said.

Where I live, Lane Bryant is the only store which carries bras over the size of DD cups. Supersillious of the majority of stores to stop at the very size of the average American woman; surely there are great numbers over that size. You can’t open a browser window to a health site or news page, turn on TV or radio, or leave the house and not know how big we American’s are; myself included. It’s not just the USA, and weight isn’t the only reason for the overly-developed bosoms in developed nations either. If I were a CEO of an apparel manufacturer or chain, I’d find limiting bra sizes to exclude such a huge part of the market not only worthy of eyeball rolls, but I’d roll some heads too. It’s unacceptable. But the fact is, there is only one store in the whole metropolitan area which sells bras larger than double-d cups; and that store is Lane Bryant.

So I’m shopping for bras at Lane Bryant, which means finding one that fits. I can’t just use the size that’s on my current Lane Bryant bra, because it no longer properly fits — in fact, none of my Lane Bryant bras seem to fit after say a dozen washings. The center piece pulls away, no longer sits flush against my breastbone. I know from Ali Cudby, and the aches and pains in my own body, as well as how my form looks, that this is no good.

Maybe this is all just a result of the cheapening of clothing, thanks to WalMart. But I hope not.

There are two sales associates at my disposal, one presumably training the other in this nearly-empty store. I try to ask them for some suggestions. I know from decades of previous retail work, that they aren’t really trained for much past working the register and meeting sales quotas, but I figure they know from their own figures and customer comments or complaints which bras are least likely to have the problem.

I describe my problem and the clerk-in-training eagerly replies that her bras all do the same. Rather shocked, I begin to explain that that is not how a bra is supposed to fit — that’s when the more experienced clerk interrupts me.

“When you’re talking about an E cup or larger, that’s an awful lot to ask of a bra,” she says.

Now I’m even more shocked.

“Yes…” I begin, “But the bras aren’t just supposed to ‘be larger’ but actually fit. When bras don’t fit right, there are aches and pains… Plus the rest of your clothes look sloppy.”

“Yes,” she replied, with a tense smile, “But at that size…”

“Well, if you wear a size 26 pants, they still have to fit, right?” I challenge her. “I mean the crotch is where it’s supposed to be, not at the knees. The pants are larger — but not just larger. They have to fit.

In that magical retail blend of “the customer was always right” and “if you have nothing nice to say…” she had nothing to say in reply. The other clerk kept a smile on her face, but, taking her clues from her superior, she too was silent.

Now I was more than shocked; I was disturbed and saddened. Here’s a plus-sized lady working in a shop selling plus-sized clothing, and she’s making excuses for accepting clothing that doesn’t fit.

I don’t know whether the clerk’s stance was some reflexive act in defense of the company she works for; or if it was a sad commentary on average-sized women, working in a fashion store or not, who are told they are “large,” “plus sized,” or even “fat” who feel they aren’t worthy of clothing that actually fits them.

In any case, all that was left for me to do was to try on bras until I found one that I could pronounce “fitting” and worthy of purchasing; then take it home and see if it fares any better than the others had.  (My fingers are crossed that it does; but the past few years has taught me not to hold my breath.)

There are plenty of reasons right here in this one shopping experience to explain Oprah’s claims that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. (There is some confusion regarding the Oprah statistic and the much touted 80% figure which may have started with a Wacoal study in 2005. Also, here’s a medical study regarding women with thoracic spine or posterior chest wall pain which says of the 80% who wear ill-fitting bras, 70% are wearing bras that are too small, and the BBC reports that 100% of women going into a hospital clinic for breast reduction surgery were wearing improperly fitting bras. Clearly this is an issue!)

Women may educate themselves about how a bra should fit, but the real question remains: If women, especially big busted women, are limited access to a wide array of bra sizes, how can they find those that properly fit?

The reality is that ordering dozens or even a handful of bras to try on is not an option for the majority of women in this country. WalMart may have cheap bras (both in terms of quality and price), but even online, the largest size they have is a 48DDD and only in one bra. Most bras over a DD cost $30 to $45 (and, of course, much higher). Few women have hundreds of dollars to tie-up in ordering bras — even if they are returning most of them.  We are the 99%, or the 80%, if you prefer; not the 1%. So we remain held hostage by the inaccessibility.

What worse, we are women who already held hostage by our breasts. Along with our vaginas and uteri, our breasts are legislated. We dare not bare our breasts in public, not even to feed our children. Many school and employment policies have dress codes which require female employees to wear bras. (We make 77 cents for every dollar a man does, and we are required to wear garments with a heftier price-tag than men too.) Gawd forbid we show a bra strap. All because breasts not bound enough can be too sexy or whatever; especially larger breasts. As if there weren’t enough judgements from pigs, we as a society allow judgements about female breasts.We’re supposed to blame and contain breasts as opposed to make men responsible for their silliness or worse. It’s all the American versions of the burka and sharia law.

As if having larger breasts weren’t problematic enough, just finding the right bras to do all this — as well as prevent the pains that insurance typically won’t cover — is thwarted by not having access to bras in our size range.

All images via Busty Girl Comics — check out the Busty Girl Comics store too!

Sexism In The Royal Canadian Air Force Fitness Plans?

Here’s a little gem: the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness booklet.

This edition is the forty-third printing of the revised U.S. edition of the official RCAF fitness plan, published in 1962. It’s two books in one, as it contains both XBX (Ten Basic Exercises), the twelve minute a day plan for women, and 5BX (Five Basic Exercises), the eleven minute a day plan for men, which were previously published separately. (Note, the “X” in XBX does not refer to the two x-chromosomes of women.)

The plans enable you, the common folk, to get fit just as the fancy airline folk do — by yourself, at home, in your spare time, at your own rate, without any equipment.

I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the fitness plan; however, the exercises, created by Canada’s “pioneer” of physical fitness, William A. R. Orban, look like the general movements, tasks, and poses I’ve found in so many publications over the years (none as bad as beating your fat against a wall). But I can and will speak to the quirky fact that the two fitness plans differ greatly in terms of how the exercises are depicted by gender.

The women’s exercises are shown with step-by-step photographs of women in leotards:

While the men’s are shown with cool, graphic, iconic, illustrations:

While it’s true that the men’s fitness plan predates the women’s by a couple of years, I still find the differences striking… Was one gender thought to be confused by less-than realistic images? Is the female form just more acceptable, if not titillating, when shown in photographs? Or was continuity broken because greyscale printing became cheaper or otherwise de rigueur?

Before you decide, let me just show you one more thing…

While the men get a great phallic graphic, we women are sans a powerful ovarian homage.

 

Sexism Alert: “The Great Male Survey” Results

Last month, AskMen.com (50,000 AskMen.com readers) & Shine (19,000 respondents over a four week period) conducted its second annual online survey, where real women and men answered questions on such topics as online dating, money, careers, soul mates, marriage, romance, cheating, etc.

One area where men really weighed-in differently was the matter of weight gain. Seems fatty-fatty-two-by-four will be kicked out of the couple’s door — by (surprise!) males.

An overwhelming 70% of women responded to “Would you dump a boyfriend if he became fat?” with “No, his appearance does not affect my love for him.” But 48% of men said they would dump their girlfriend. Shocking? No. Superficial? Yes.

While 75% of US men (just a few points off of their male counterparts in the UK, Canada & Australia) and 63% of the women believe marriage “is a necessary institution, and one that I will participate in to help preserve,” there’s something funky going on… I guess marriage as an “institution to preserve” only applies to skinny folks — for men, anyway.

But perhaps most upsetting to me were the results regarding divorce (as in “she’s too fat to remain with me”). When asked, “Do men get screwed by the courts in divorce?” 83% of the men said “Yes.” I guess I’m not surprised to hear men continue to whine about their victimization (as if!), but the women? While the 44% who said, “No, men and women generally get fair and equal treatment,” may seem comforting, look closer and you’ll see that 40% also said “Yes” — 40% of women believe that men are victimized by divorce courts.

Ugh.

I guess these women aren’t really listening to their friends’ divorce stories.

Yet 35% of these whining & irrational men who believed they are treated unfairly by divorce courts say prenups are “Not at all important.” Isn’t that a dumb reaction, to not protect yourself from what you (irrationally) fear?

But that’s only part of the story, really; just look at the questions & results:

For Men:

How important is it to you for your future wife to sign a prenup?

35% Not at all important

33% Not very important

22% Somewhat important

10% Very important

For Women:

Do you want your future husband to sign a prenup?

73% No, I will marry a man who I trust enough to not need a prenup

11% Yes, but I won’t risk jeopardizing our relationship by asking him to sign one

9% Yes, I won’t marry him unless she does

7% No, I’m out to steal his money

And that sexist difference in the survey questions & responses may be the most telling thing of all.

Women too insecure to ask for a prenup? But not the big strong he-man. (He’s just too dumb not to ask, even when he thinks the male created & controlled courts are out to get him because he has a penis. A-duh.) Women asked a question in which they are offered the golden opportunity to self-identify as gold diggers? Where are the men’s sugar daddy responses? And that confusing typo (see 9% female response) — for a minute there I thought they were actually including lesbians. Yeah. Right.

If such sexism was ignored or thought “cute” by the female respondents, then no wonder they themselves are sexist enough in their thinking to believe that men have it bad in divorces.

I do believe now we know why this is called The Great Male Survey; Long Live The Great Male.

*yawn*

If Your Husband Is Cheating; Get Your Fat Ass To The Gym

Offensive because it’s putting the blame on ‘you’ for his crap, but still…

There’s something to this.

If you’re overweight, you may not have ‘let yourself go’ in the way that means you are so satisfied with your relationship that you take it for granted — but you might be depressed and unhappy (whichever came first, the depression or the weight is rather like the chicken & the egg) which will means you likely aren’t being the best partner.

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for your relationship — there can’t be a happy two of you when one of you is miserable.

Not that this excuses his horrible behavior (or yours, should the situation be reversed); a commitment is a commitment. To forgive him or not is a separate issue, but in any case, together or apart, you must begin taking care of yourself. That includes your weight, your depression, and your unhappiness.

Image via Jailbird at Etsy.

Pulling Relationship Weight

Leigh Peele, a published author and expert on weight loss, has an intriguing article at the Examiner on the courtship of obesity:

The process of mate selection for human beings is different from culture to culture and has evolved with the ages. Long ago the majority choose a mate purely on the ground of livelihood. If your mate could feed you or have children that was good enough. That isn’t to say there wasn’t always a rebel or two that caused a uproar in the normal flow of things. However, the majority of the time people chose mostly out of safety, and at best for love.

Flash forward to a time of internet dating, mail order brides, maxim magazine, and Flavor of Love. I think you will find that things are a little different. Self independence and prosperity is possible for both sexes. The ability to have children isn’t dependent on a penis and a vagina. Lastly, food is everywhere in advanced societies so the need to find a mate based solely on those past needs are getting cut more and more everyday. If those aren’t leading the ranks of why we pick a mate, what is?

I’ve written, elsewhere, on the subject of the biology of appearance in attraction, and while Peele clearly has a belief system (if not an agenda), she raises some good points:

How you look, the health you convey, and the body you have is now a extreme contributing factor. Studies and survey’s around the world are showing time and time again that the weight and appearance of a person plays a very large role in if they are found to be dating material or not. The question is, why?

If you say because “fat people are ugly” you would be wrong. Studies show that it isn’t the physical attraction to the person that is the issue, it is the underlying factors instead. For example, one study shows that on average medical costs are 36% higher for obese adults than their non-obese partners. Other studies also show that those who are largely overweight make a smaller percentage of pay vs those who have a healthier BMI. Obesity is also highly prevalent in low educated households, and the children of obese parents have a higher likely hood to drop out of high school.

When we combine all that above this means that through one scan of the eyes the average person when on approach for dating material can see someone who is obese as unhealthy, uneducated, and not financially secure. Obviously this is not true in all cases, but now if you find yourself in this position, not only do you have to worry about your own insecurities of being physically under par to yourself, you have to worry about your whole level of worth being judged from education to finance. Because of this overwhelming pressure, studies show that the mate you choose is going to be constantly less than your instinctual set standards because you feel that this is the best you can do. The cycle then starts of the problems in the relationship.

Peele then goes on to describe what she believes occurs in relationships where one person is ‘thin’ and the other ‘obese’:

Constantly those who are overweight will put “being fat” on the high list of problems in a relationship before they will put “living in self doubt.” Mixed couples fight more about cheating, have more short term separations, and will settle more in abusive relationships on average than couples who share in the same activities and physical physique. It is a lot more likely that one of you is nice and the other is a jerk.

…It isn’t about BMI, that is just a side effect. That is merely the scapegoat for the problem. The problem is self worth and self esteem. Usually those who were married pre-obesity have less problems than those who go into the courtship already overweight. With marriage there is a level of knowing what can be there again if desire or a deep understanding of the person in when they felt their best. Since the person saw the “real” you at a point, even if you are insecure now, there is still enough of you there in them that you are able to maintain a high level of happiness and trust.

I’ll admit, I’ve never quite looked at weight issues from this perspective. I’ve been ‘fat’ and I’ve been ‘thin,’ and while I’ve certainly noticed the times when my fat self was unattractive — not for the physical reasons but the insecurities & bad attitudes — I’ve never quite put things together as neatly as Peele has.

Not that being thinner delivers a magical life, but there is something I can attest to as far as attitude & acceptance. Speaking in generalities, if & when I happily accept ‘me’, I have better partners and better relationships; but when I am miserable, I make dumber decisions & accept far less than I really deserve.  Not to mention, I’m just a bitch (or killjoy) to be around.

There’s also been a difference between my relationships (with myself and with others), depending upon how I ‘took the weight off’.

The times I forced myself to diet — like an aggressive prison warden — I may have lost weight, but I felt the punitive actions, the self-loathing, and not only was miserable in the process and with others, but the weight came back quickly. However, once I rid myself of my emotional baggage, I naturally seemed to slim-down — as if that baggage was literally the saddlebags on my hips and thighs.

So while I’m not sure I agree that relationships between the skinny dating the fat are doomed to inequity, I do see (and often talk about) the great difficulties in relationships between those who are happily accepting of themselves and those who are riddled with insecurities and self-loathing. If your weight is an indication of the latter, the issues are certainly worth exploring for yourself.